What is the best part about a zombie movie? Some say it’s the fiendish way in which the living get torn apart and eaten by the dead. Those in favour of the human race will say it’s the creative and gruesome ways that we dispatch the re-animated.
Personally, I don’t really care, as long as there are copious amounts of gore and bloodshed. However, in deference to the living, I present my list of top ten headshots in a zombie movie. Some are not the traditional bullet or shotgun blast, but they get the job done.
Note: Where possible photos have been included of the scene but in some cases we just used a groovy photo from the film where we could not find the actual death scene. Feel free to share in the comments if you have ones we are missing.
1. Diary of the Dead, 2007.
This is included in the list because while it’s not technically a head shot, it’s the only brain kill of its kind I’ve seen. And it’s good. A zombie takes a glass beaker of hydrochloric acid to the top of the skull. It slowly melts the zombie’s head as he staggers around. He eventually drops when the acid eats over a quarter of his skull. The CGI is so good you can almost smell the brains cooking.
2. Zombieland, 2009.
I picked this one because it adds a little comic value. The scene where Columbus takes a massive carnival hammer to the head of the zombie clown is magnificent. Especially the squeak as the hammer smashes into the clown nose.
3. Dawn of the Dead, 2004.
This one is a favourite just because we never usually see bored people during a zombie apocalypse. It just doesn’t happen as most of their time is spent looking for food, evading zombies or pretending they haven’t been bitten. In one scene, bored survivors pass the time by killing celebrity look-a-likes. Burt Reynolds meets his fate at the wrong end of a sniper rifle, his brains blasted out of the back of his head. Burt, I do love Smokey and the Bandit.
4. Creepshow, 1982.
There is a great short in here called “Something to Tide You Over”. Becky and Harry, waterlogged zombie characters both take a great shot in the face by a psychopathic Richard Vickers. (Two shots in the face for Harry.) What’s great about this is that the ruthless and calculating psychopath is Leslie Nielsen and the hapless victim is Ted Danson. It’s a complete departure for both actors.
5. Planet Terror, 2007.
Another unique set up. I haven’t seen a zombie movie where a hot one legged stripper has a prosthetic machine gun for a leg. Towards the end of the movie, Cherry scrubs a zombie with her machine gun, sending head parts everywhere. It’s different and still has a good blood shower effect.
6. Survival of the Dead, 2004.
I like this one as the headshot is done a little tongue in cheek. A soldier zombie who bites the cheek off his superior officer subsequently gets his head blown off by a fellow soldier. It’s unique as most of the head is vaporized, but the top of his skull remains intact and comically plops onto his neck.
7. Planet Terror, 2007.
I love this kind of death scene. It’s the jerk who gets what’s coming. You know, he’s that character you been waiting to see killed since the beginning of the movie. Abby gets his due with a stellar head shot that leaves big fleshy chunks hanging from his neck.
8. Day of the Dead, 1985.
This one is great because the character Steel has been an irritating buffoon for the whole movie. Bub, the pet zombie is chasing him down and Steel finds himself in a room that quickly gets overrun with zombies. He blasts four zombies, all decent headshots, before putting the gun in his mouth. Nice splatter pattern.
9. Dawn of the Dead, 1978.
This one is terrific as it maximizes practically the entire frame for the headshot effect. Peter shoots zombie Stephen at the end of the movie as Peter and Francine make good their escape. The wall behind Stephen makes a great canvas for the incredible amount of spray. Being shot at close range with a rifle will do that.
10. (Dawn of the Dead, 1978)
This is absolutely my favourite. A stick of dynamite shoved in this zombie’s mouth wouldn’t have had a better effect. A crazed SWAT team member, Wooley, kicks in the door during the apartment raid and blasts the zombie on the other side. His head EXPLODES! Kudos to Tom Savini for this.
Honourable mentions . . .
Goes to the zombie who walks into the spinning helicopter rotor, neatly slicing off the top 3 inches of his head. (Dawn of the Dead, 1978)
Another honourable mention goes to the zombie who tore apart the chubby guy’s head in Dead Snow, 2009. Beautifully messy. What’s worse than your garden variety zombie? A Nazi zombie.